With the shift to employees-centered policies within the majority of organizations, the issues of ethical behavior and both individual and organizational responsibility require special consideration.
At present, a number of firms have vacancies for communication specialists who could train employees to behave ethically in both formal and informal settings. Ethical training has impact on employees’ judgments as to wrongness or rightness of their actions in working environment but the final decisions depend upon their personal views and priorities.
Facing moral dilemmas, employees often hesitate before making a choice between their egoistic inclinations and altruistic values, following ethical norms or their own life views.
The problem of these inner conflicts is rooted in mismatches between the ethical standards within a particular organization and individual’s system of values. “Value congruence (the similarity between individual and organizational values) between employees and their organizations has a significant effect on organizational commitment” (Shockley-Zalabak, 2009, p. 105).
Obtaining a profound knowledge of ethical norms, an individual still can hesitate, deciding on a particular principle for finding the appropriate way out. Considering the issues of basic moral rights for solving particular problems, an employee notices that they can overlap and contradict one another, giving rise to people’s doubts. For this reason, these are personal values that become the assessment criteria of wrongness or rightness of one’s own actions and behavior of others.
Weighing all pros and cons of a particular moral choice, an individual should set the priorities and view the situation from various perspectives before proceeding to actions. For example, interpersonal relationships between employees can become the reason for controversial situations in which workers will have to decide between ethical standards and their individual values.
In a situation when a person overhears a conversation between managers concerning the refuse of promotion for his/her best friend and hesitates if it is admissible to inform a friend on it or keep silent unwilling to hurt a friend and because of the manner in which the information was received.
This is the topic of the conversation and peculiarities of the situation that matter in this individual case. According to the norms of professional ethics, I should have kept silent. However, evaluating the situation critically and considering the fact that a friend would lose an interesting job offer from another department without my interference, I would disclose the secret. However, this choice would be more problematic if there were no offer from another department.
Then this information would be useless for the friend and could only frustrate him/her. Sharing information that has no any impact on reality is close to spreading rumors. In this case the principles of basic rights for privacy and free will overlap and the choice between them depends upon the employees’ personal priorities.
The human factor has a significant impact on the effectiveness of the working process. Besides the professional qualities, the importance of issues of psychological compatibility of the members of a team and their ability to cooperate should not be underestimated.
The working atmosphere and general mood of a team are significant for enhancing the effectiveness of the collaborative process. “Executives reported that they waste 7.8 hours per week, or 2.3 months per year, in unnecessary meetings” (Messmer, 2001, “Conducting effective meetings”).
For this reason, rating time at its true value, employees should plan their meetings beforehand, putting special emphasis on meeting the targets. In a situation when a member of a project team developing a training program for customer support representatives observes reluctance of two members of a team to make a contribution to the project and gets to know that they spread rumors about his/her lack of proficiency, a person faces a moral dilemma.
On the one hand, the behavior of these employees is unprofessional and inadmissible. On the other hand, making particular decisions, an individual should consider the ethical norms and consider the consequences of one’s choices, bearing in mind the success of the program.
In this situation I would follow the norms of ethical conduct directly, asking these members to make more efforts, pointing at the objective reasons of my dissatisfaction without mentioning any rumors or other unreliable sources of information. “The value of communication is equal to the costs plus the efforts of what you’re communicating to the power of perception” (Sierra, 2003, “Sierra’s theory of communicativity”).
Disregarding the importance of the atmosphere within a team, business should not be sacrificed to discussing the interpersonal relationships. Even if other employees do not implement principles of corporative ethics, it does not mean that an individual should put them in their own coin.
Ensuring the basic rights for their employees and considering the ethical training while planning the company’s programs is expected to enhance the effectiveness of its working processes. The human factor and similarity between individual and organizational systems of values play an important role in company’s success. Evaluating the rightness or wrongness of a particular action, employees implement ethical principles only after adapting them to their personal views.
Messmer, M. (2001, June). Conducting effective meetings. Strategic Finance, 82(12), 8–9.
Shockley-Zalabak, P. (2009). Fundamentals of organizational communication knowledge, sensitivity, skills, values (7th ed.). Boston: Pearson Education.
Sierra, L. (2003, June/July). Sierra’s theory of communicativity. Communication World, 20(4).